United Way Avenues of Change

United Way Avenues of Change is a bold place-based approach that tackles neighbourhood-specific factors contributing to childhood vulnerability.

Launched in 2013, Avenues of Change is an unprecedented 5-year investment in neighbourhoods where young kids are struggling the most. Our aim is to see more kids in these areas start school ready to learn. By supporting kids during their most critical years of development – from birth to age 6 – we’re creating better futures for kids and their neighbourhoods.

girl playing with a puzzle.

1 in 3 kids is vulnerable

This means 1 in every 3 kids starts school not ready to learn. In some Lower Mainland neighbourhoods, that number is even worse: it’s 1 in 2.

Up to half of the five year olds in the following locations were identified as “developmentally vulnerable” when they entered kindergarten. We’ve already begun to see some improvements since United Way Avenues of Change was launched.

  • Strathcona (Vancouver) – 51% vulnerable (down from 52%)
  • Guildford West (Surrey) – 51% vulnerable
  • Richmond City Centre – 44% vulnerable
  • Coquitlam River (Tri-Cities) – 38% vulnerable (down from 43%)
  • Squamish – 35% vulnerable

In each of these areas, we are working closely with key community partners and stakeholders to deliver neighbourhood-specific strategies to help kids succeed.

Place-based approaches work

Research shows that place-based approaches support children’s well-being.

Following this methodology, United Way Avenues of Change, the neighbourhood’s public partners, community agencies and families with young children:

  • Work together towards a common goal
  • Develop shared, highly collaborative and achievable Action Strategies that respond to the community’s unique needs, and
  • Look at policies and service delivery in a way that makes the most sense for families with young children in that area.

We’ve already seen our collective impact result in significant reductions on childhood vulnerability in some of our United Way Avenues of Change locations, but even where we haven’t yet been able to move the dial, we’ve gained some incredibly valuable insights that will help inform both existing as well as upcoming sites.

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Tracy GreenAvenues of Change